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Comcast raising local TV fees 57% in January; Altitude Sports missing from 2020 lineup

Tamara Chuang, Colorado Sun

With no resolution in sight between the state’s largest cable TV provider and the channel that broadcasts Denver Nuggets and Colorado Avalanche games, Comcast is moving into 2020 without Altitude Sports and plans to increase a separate local-broadcast fee by 57%.

Starting Jan. 1, Comcast will reduce its regional sports network fee in Colorado by $1.25 to $6.75 a month. 

But Comcast isn’t stopping there. Its broadcast TV fee — which it pays to ABC, CBS, NBC and Fox and passes most of it on to customers — is increasing 57% to $13.65 per month, or $163.80 a year. The change will affect all Comcast customers in Colorado, from Fort Collins to Pueblo and Denver to Glenwood Springs.

“Programming costs are our largest expense,” Alison Busse, a Comcast spokeswoman in Denver, said in an email. “…For example, our broadcast retransmission costs – the amount Comcast pays to broadcasters – have risen more than 1,350% since 2010, and continue to increase significantly.”

In the past decade, TV fees have become a new source of revenue for local TV channels. As cable companies saw their costs rise, they started separating out the fee — and several others — in customer bills. But the ballooning fees have, on average, inflated customer bills by 24%, according to Consumer Reports. This has resulted in more consumers cutting the cord, more channels getting blacked out and now pending federal legislation to increase transparency of fees.

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